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McIlroy eyes history at Palmer PGA event

Defending champion Rory McIlroy will start the final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida in second place and in the final pairing.

McIlroy eyes history at Palmer PGA event

Defending champion Rory McIlroy will start the final round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida in second place and in the final pairing.

RORY MCILROY of Northern Ireland plays during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
RORY MCILROY of Northern Ireland plays during the final round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Picture:Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Inspired by the legacy of the late Arnold Palmer, Rory McIlroy is determined to win the golf great's prestigious Bay Hill tournament on the PGA Tour for the second-straight year.

Having won the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational by three shots, defending champion McIlroy played his way into Sunday's final pairing courtesy of the equal-best round on day three in Florida.


McIlroy mixed seven birdies with a lone bogey during a six-under-par 66 that launched the Northern Irishman to second place at eight under, one stroke behind 54-hole leader Matthew Fitzpatrick (67).

Australia's Aaron Baddeley (69), Matt Wallace (69) and Kevin Kisner (70) share third at seven under.

McIlroy didn't play the Bay Hill tournament until 2015, which was 18 months before seven-time major winner Palmer's death.

Four-time major winner McIlroy says he regrets that scheduling conflict but is determined to honour 'The King' by defending his title in Sunday's final round.

"I didn't play this tournament for various reasons and I would always get a letter from Arnold every year saying, 'Hoping to see you at Bay Hill'," McIlroy said.

"Finally, in 2015, I played here and I realised what I was missing; I got to spend some time with Arnold which was a dream come true for me.

"He was an American icon ... I realised what a great man he (was) and how many lives he touched around the world.

"I think it is important for everyone to try come here and pay tribute to one of the legends of the game."

Although McIlroy has 22 professionals wins worldwide, including the 2013 Australian Open, he has never defended a title.

"It's a great opportunity tomorrow to do something I've never done before; that's exciting," McIlroy said.

With a win on Sunday, 29-year-old McIlroy would join Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players since 1934 to win four major championships among 15 PGA Tour titles before the age of 30.

The Palmer Invitational is one of the PGA Tour's most revered tournaments, offering a $US9.1 million ($A12.9m) purse and a three-year PGA Tour exemption for the winner.

AAP


AAP




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